M.C. Mary Kom, India's medal hope in Olympic women's boxing, put on a valiant display as she downed a bigger Polish opponent Karolina Michalczuk to enter the quarterfinals of the 51 kg category here Sunday.
The five-time world champion, had to fight hard to progress to the next stage, winning 19-14 at the ExCel Arena. The Indian faces Maroua Rahali of Tunisia in a last eight bout Monday.
The first round was a tight affair as both the boxers came out attacking. There was nothing to separate the two as the round ended 3-3.
In the second round, the Indian boxer came out with a new vigour and attacked viciously. The Polish boxer too didn't flinch as she she answered Mary Kom's punches with some of her own.
Many thought the round might got to the Pole, who towards the end sent the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist reeling. Karolina landed a hard right hook which took the wind out of the Indian. But the judges still awarded the round in the Indian's favour 5-4.
Mary Kom showed her class in the third. She attacked with a flurry of combinations which had the Pole ducking and evading. Both of them traded punches for a while but it was clear that the diminutive Indian was well ahead. With quick feet and quick hands, Mary Kom surged ahead into the lead, taking the round 7-3.
With both boxers tiring in the fourth round, the Indian tried to stay away from the reach of her opponent, who had to reduce a five-point deficit.
Karolina fought hard for a comeback but the Indian was too good for her. Time running-out, the Pole caught Mary Kom a couple of times but could only draw the final round 4-4.